Religion plays an important part in most people’s lives.
Even if they don’t attend church.
See it this way. How many holidays do we celebrate that started with religious observances? For one, the government shuts down. Christmas.
We hunt eggs on Easter. How about Valentine’s Day? (yes, a religious beginning) Even St. Patrick’s Day.
Then there’s Palm Sunday, Halloween (another religious beginning), and Good Friday.
Do observing these holidays make people religious? If we look at their behavior the rest of the year, obviously not.
What should we look for in a religious person?
What expectations does God place on us if we are to reflect his nature and holy character?
James 1:27 gives us 2 Expectations from God.
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
Let’s look at God’s 2 Expectations in a modern light.
Expectation No. 1:
We are to visit orphans and widows in their affliction.
In biblical times, there were no organizations to shoulder the load of those without working husbands and fathers. In today’s parlance, we must not ignore the plight of less fortunate people. Visit with the elderly couple over the fence. Ask if they need anything when you go to the store. Mow their lawn occasionally. Just be nice.
The same is true for kids. Volunteer to coach. Get involved in a youth organization. Be proactive in helping the disadvantaged youth in your city.
Expectation No. 2:
We are to keep ourselves unstained from the world.
What would paint Christians in a bad light? Don’t do it. That’s simple and easy to do.
That includes your private time. The reality is that how you behave in your private time will eventually bleed into the rest of your life. Here’s a good benchmark. Would you invite your pastor to join you? If not, then you shouldn’t be involved.
People try to put burdensome rules and regulations on how to be a Christian. Our verse in James clears all that up. Here’s a recap.
1. Share with people in need.
2. Choose an upright way to live.
The rest of the Bible is our guidebook. As Harold Herring of the Debt Free Army likes to say: “Read the Bible. Do what it says.”
When you have these 2 Expectations mastered, you’re living exactly how God wants.
Our Christian standard is simple. We must live as Jesus lived.
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